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    "Vermin" Game & Watch Sales Demo - Mego and Nintendo (c. 1979-1980). This unique, fully operational sample unit is sure to delight all video game collectors -- and not just those who focus on Game & Watch! At first glance, this heavy little 15.5" by 13.5" by 9.5" cabinet may appear to be a prototype for the table top Game & Watch units that came out in 1983. However, this is actually a sales sample that Mego used as a demo to debut the first release of the little Game & Watch handheld toys at the NYC Toy Fair. As one could imagine, it is quite difficult to show another person how these cute little, electronic handheld game units work without getting into their personal space -- so this was likely quite a necessity at the show!

    The Game & Watch toys may not have been the first electronic handheld games, but they were certainly some of the most popular. Each Game & Watch was made to play one game, and there were sixty different games released between 1980 and 1991. These pocket calculator-sized toys were the brainchild of Gunpei Yokoi at Nintendo. It probably comes as no surprise that he was also integral to the development of the Game Boy handheld video game console released roughly 10 years later.

    Even though Nintendo did eventually release their Game & Watch units under their own branding, the very first Game & Watch toys (which were part of the "Silver line") were distributed by Mego in North America due to Nintendo's lack of marketing presence in the US. These titles include "Ball," "Flagman," "Fire," and, of course, "Exterminator," which was later changed to "Vermin." It can only be presumed that units for the other titles from the silver line could have existed, but the only other publicly confirmed unit is a demo for the game "Flagman."

    Nintendo has managed to encourage fans to continue to acknowledge this part of their history by making references to the Game & Watch toy line in modern video games like in the "Super Smash Bros." series. Mr. Game & Watch appears as a fighter, and, in fact, he actually does have a fighting move inspired by the game "Vermin!" There is also a stage that looks like one of the LCD Game & Watch units that makes references to multiple titles from the toy line.

    "Shadows" of stickers remain on the left side of the unit where the black paint is darker than the rest of the cabinet. The unit has small scratches in the black paint on several parts of its cabinet. Its Game & Watch branding on the front is faint on the left, and has been removed to the right. While the labels for the switches are barely visible or completely gone, the control scheme matches that exactly of the commercially produced handheld units. The unit receives power from a standard, three-pronged plug compatible with 110-120V (60 Hz), and is powered on using a toggle switch underneath. All functions of the cabinet work, including its sound, which mirrors that of the handheld toy.

    One of the biggest draws to this particular unit is the sheer character that is lent to it from its puffy stickers that are of its period. Once it was retired as a demo unit, it is clear that it was loved quite dearly by the kid who inherited it from the sales person. As the eyes scan the unit, a new cause for joy is found in these little time capsules. Whether its found in one of the fuzzy-variety of Popeye characters, the Pac-Man ghosts who still have their "googly eyes," the villainous version of Nintendo's Mario from Donkey Kong Jr., one of the many Garfield stickers, or the one featuring a stork carrying a baby Pac-Man; each is more delightful to see than the last. With all of its charm, character, and undeniable history, this unit is sure to continue to be loved extensively by a very happy collector.

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    EDIT: Added "15.5" by 13.5" by 9.5" between "little" and "cabinet" in paragraph one.Changed "manufactured" to "distributed" in paragraph three. Added "due to Nintendo's lack of marketing presence in the US." in paragraph three.

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